Avian flu continues to take its toll on the Western Cape

Avian influenza continues to impact the Western Cape poultry industry with the number of confirmed cases now having risen to 50. The regional outbreak, first confirmed in August, has seen the culling of 2,5 million chickens and ducks. According to Alan Winde, provincial minster of economic development and agriculture, officials continue to work at full pace in an effort to find solutions to the outbreak, but the disease was still spreading rapidly despite increased control measures. He said an industry application to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) for an avian flu vaccination was still under consideration. “They are also finalizing discussion on possible financial support,” he said. “We are also briefing cabinet in the coming week on the impact of the drought and avian influenza on agriculture.

These issues will be considered when drafting our budgets for the coming financial year.”Winde said it was an extremely difficult time for the poultry industry. “Some farmers are faced with the possibility of having to close down their businesses. Workers are worried about their livelihoods, and being able to provide for their families. We know the impact on food security is also likely to be significant. This is why we are committed to working with DAFF and the industry to save our poultry industry.” According to Winde the outbreak is the first of its kind in South Africa.

SA mining production surges 6.9% in August and exceeds expectations

Mining production in South Africa increased by 6.9% year-on-year in August whilst seasonally adjusted mining production increased by 5.3% in the same month compared with July, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) said on Thursday. StatsSA said the biggest contributors to the jump in production were iron-ore, diamonds and gold, adding 1.3 percentage points, 1.2 percentage points and 1.1 percentage points respectively. Iron ore production increased nine percent, diamonds 27.7%, and gold 7.7%. StatsSA said mineral sales increased by 17.7% year-on-year in July. The main positive contributors were coal with a 36.3% increase, manganese ore increasing 116.9%, a 59.8% increase in chromium ore, and ‘other’ metallic minerals increasing 106.2%.

Jason Muscat, FNB senior economic analyst at FNB, said production surged with all components of the index, apart from copper and building materials, registering gains, contrary to our expectation of a small contraction in August mining output. “While the global environment remains supportive of both commodity prices and output, the August print far exceeded our expectations, and puts the sector on course to make a significant positive contribution to the 2017 third quarter GDP,” Muscat said. “The domestic environment, however, remains less certain with regard to policy and the relationship between the industry and the mining ministry. For this reason, we will await further data before considering upwardly revising our full year forecast for the sector.”

95% of Durban port safe – TNPA

95% of the Durban port area has been declared safe for vessel navigation following severe weather conditions earlier this week. According to the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), progress has been made in clearing obstruction and debris on the seabed allowing for navigation to resume along Pier 1 of the Durban Container Terminal. “Sounding surveys are still in progress along the C-Shed area and in the interest of ensuring safe navigation of vessels, vessel movement is still suspended in this area,” a TNPA spokesperson said.

Nersa does a 180 on Eskom revenue application decision

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has revealed findings that show that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) had agreed to let Eskom keep some costs secret a month after publicly announcing that the information must be made available. This was uncovered after Outa asked Nersa for the missing information to which the energy regulator replied that the information was confidential as its disclosure was likely to cause harm to the commercial or financial interests of Eskom.

Outa has suggested that Nersa was not being transparent as the decision to allow the parastatal to omit information was made at a meeting on September 4 but was not disclosed to the public. According to a statement, released by Outa the information redacted from the power utility’s revenue application includes coal burn costs which Outa energy director Ted Blom has said is “crucial information” for a transparent and fair pricing decision. “This indicates that the state capture movement may extend to Nersa as well, as the continued secrecy draws a veil over the corrupt Gupta transactions which are believed to be worth billions of rand,” he said.